From USA Today
Prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest-growing drug problem, the White House Office on National Drug Policy says. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified the misuse of these powerful painkillers as an epidemic, with 1.3 million emergency room visits in 2010, a 115% increase since 2004. Overdose deaths on opioid pain relievers surpassed deaths from heroin and cocaine for the first time in 2008.
This rise of Opana abuse
illustrates the adaptability of drug addicts and the never-ending challenge facing law enforcement authorities, addiction specialists and pharmaceutical companies. Just when they think they have curbed abuse and stopped trafficking of one drug, another fills the void. Opana's dangerous new popularity arose when OxyContin's manufacturer changed its formula to deter users from crushing, breaking or dissolving the pill so it could be snorted or injected to achieve a high.
As a new, harder-to-abuse Opana formulation replaces the old formula, police and addiction experts expect heroin to fill that void.
For years, drug abusers favored an extended-release version of OxyContin, a narcotic painkiller, for a powerful high. Over the past decade, its abuse was so prevalent that the drug became a household name.
Drug abusers could crush or dissolve the pill's time-release coating to get the full punch of the opioid oxycodone. But Purdue Pharma, OxyContin's manufacturer, reformulated it in August 2010, making it nearly impossible to crush, dissolve and inject. By the beginning of 2011, more than 95% of prescriptions were being filled with reformulated OxyContin, Purdue spokesman James Heins said.
Though people could still abuse the drug by taking larger quantities, some addicts craved the injectable high.
"At first, people tried to defeat it," McGuire said. "Then, Opana started to pop up like crazy."
Opana ER, an extended-release painkiller containing oxymorphone, came on the market in 2006. Endo Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer, completed development of a crush-resistant pill in 2010 but did not get approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) until late last year, said Endo senior vice president Blaine Davis.
On June 14, the FDA moved the old Opana formulation to its list of discontinued drugs. Davis said he doesn't know how much remains on the market.